The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Tony Blair, Ambassador to the Holy See?

A BBC blogger is raising the possibility, after noting a couple other names:

If not Chris Patten or Ann Widdecombe, then perhaps Paul Murphy, the former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland — a devout Catholic and a papal knight — will be approached. And if they wish to stick with a Northern Irish theme, they might even consider Ruth Kelly, who also served in two Labour cabinets and is said to be a member of Opus Dei. As with all high-profile candidates, there is the question of remuneration, and some former MPs, like Ann Widdecombe, are earning significantly more from their business and other activities than this position is likely to pay (roughly £100K, I’m told).

Which brings me to a possible candidate who doesn’t appear to have been sounded out yet, who could easily afford the pay cut, and is not only a high-profile Catholic politician, but a recent convert. In fact, Francis Campbell once served as his private secretary in Downing Street, and his efforts were eventually rewarded with the most talked-about ambassadorship of the moment. How about His Excellency Tony Blair, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Holy See? It has a certain ring to it, don’t you think?

There’s more, of course, at the link.

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Dcn Scott

posted July 26, 2010 at 4:07 pm

I’m not sure how well received a recent convert who is a former head-of-sate who felt the need to lecture the Holy Father in public about sexual morality would be received. Blair strikes me as a Sarkozy-like (Sarko also being a convert, as am I) figure. I don’t think this would be a good choice across-the-board, including for Tony Blair.

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Dcn Scott

posted July 26, 2010 at 4:10 pm

or former head of state, for that matter

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Deacon Norb

posted July 26, 2010 at 5:16 pm

My last trip to England was in 2000. One of my nights there was shared with a priest/pastor of a large urban parish in the Roman Catholic Diocese of East Anglia. Our discussion — over a few glasses of genuine English “bitter” –revolved around the quiet influence that Roman Catholicism has had on the country in recent years. He particularly pointed out two famous connections I had forgotten — or had not even realized:
–Many members of the family of “Princess Di” (who had died three years before) were prominent Roman Catholics and her brother — who is an active RC — was allowed to give an eulogy in the presence of the Queen and many officials of the Church of England at her funeral at Westminster Abbey.
–He also pointed out that the wife of Tony Blair was a Roman Catholic and he was one in all but name — apparently believing that his position (then) as Prime Minister effectively prevented him from being one officially. Once he left that position, he did formally covert.
I really do not think it is fair to call Tony Blair a “recent convert.” It is far fairer to recognize the quiet influence he has had in normalizing British-Vatican relations.
I’m not sure it will ever happen but it would prove that relations between the two — Great Britain and the Vatican — have improved immeasurably. It would likely receive a LOT of support from everyday Roman Catholics in England where Tony Blair has been respected for a very long time.

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Dcn Scott

posted July 26, 2010 at 5:44 pm

“in England where Tony Blair has been respected for a very long time.” By some and increasingly fewer on both the left and right. My point is that the Blairs’ very public lecture did not go unnoticed in Rome. His being a convert really has no bearing on his potentially being named ambassador to the Holy See. However, it is rather bad form to swim the Tiber and, upon emerging on the other side, delivering a very CofE-like lecture. I think relations between Great Britain and the Holy See are quite well at present.
I’m with Damien Thompson in thinking that Ann Widdecombe would the most interesting choice for this post, as Thompson wrote recently: “Now, actually, [Widdecombe] is a jolly good thing, but she’s also the rudest Catholic convert since Evelyn Waugh. So I wonder what will happen if – as Jonathan Wynne-Jones predicts – William Hague recommends her to succeed Francis Campbell, possibly the man with the nicest manners in the entire diplomatic corps…”
I guess since his ambition to be E.U. president didn’t work and his diplomacy to the Holy Land isn’t going so swimmingly, a nice little Roman quasi-sinecure might look tempting.

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posted July 26, 2010 at 10:52 pm

Why not send someone who’s not afraid to critique what goes on within the church. Should only “yes men” be sent as ambassadors. I would like to point out that John Adams was once the U.S. ambassador to the Court of St. James.

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posted July 27, 2010 at 8:46 am

Critique? It’s one thing to critique the Catholic Church for not being Catholic enough, but quite another to criticize her for being too Catholic

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